Written by a former CIA officer, The Tyrant's Daughter tells the story of fifteen-year-old Laila, who has fled with her family from an unnamed Middle Eastern country after her father was killed in a coup. In Washington, D.C., Laila must adjust to a completely new life and new school, where she is shocked by girls who wear tank tops and shorts and where newspapers refer to her father as a “dictator.” Just as Laila's life begins to precariously balance amidst new friends, her mother's refusal to let go of the past threatens to upend everything in a new international crisis.
Central Ohio NPR's Shelf Discovery program recently spotlighted The Tyrant's Daughter. They highly recommended the book, saying, “Although it was written for teens, The Tyrant's Daughter is an eye-opening and insightful short novel that has something to say to readers of all ages.” You can listen to the full review here.
Nearly every reviewer has praised Carleson's “beautifully written” prose (Booklist) and the complexity of Laila as a character. The strength of Carleson's writing is immediately evident when you pick up The Tyrant's Daughter. Take a look for yourself via the excerpt made available by Knopf Books for Young Readers here.
Below are some of the excellent reviews that have come in for The Tyrant's Daughter:
“Filled with political intrigue and emotional tension...Riveting...Raising as many questions as answers about Laila’s fate, the novel challenges social values close to home and abroad.” --Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Absorbing, character-driven...Carleson shrewdly makes what has become a sadly familiar story on the evening news accessible by focusing on the experiences of one innocent girl at the center of it. Laila is a complex and layered character whose nuanced observations will help readers better understand the divide between American and Middle Eastern cultures. Smart, relevant, required reading.” --Kirkus, starred review
“This is more than just Laila’s story; rather, it is a story of context, beautifully written, and stirring in its questions and eloquent observations about our society and that of the Middle East.” --Booklist
“An amazingly gripping and honest tale. Carleson keeps her readers feeling as though they have just returned from traveling in a foreign land, making those faraway issues feel a little more personal—a feat few can achieve with words alone.” --BookPage
“Timely, relevant, and fascinating, Laila’s story offers readers an accessible understanding of the seemingly intractable nature of Middle East politics.” --The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
“Some books are entertaining, some books are eye opening, but it's a special book that's both...Insightful and honest, this book also delivers a powerful ending worthy of Homeland.” --Justine Magazine
“A touching, suspenseful story...Every American should read this book. It’s an eye-opener.” --Suzanne Fisher Staples, New York Times bestselling author of Shabanu: Daughter of the Wind
Knopf Books for Young Readers, February 2014